On Modi, the Mahabharata, and hubris

The man and the mask

Image courtesy Tehelka

(This is a mildly edited version of a BuzzFeed column published on October 11.)

“Just landed in Delhi,” a Bollywood starlet tweeted on May 26, 1914, “and even the air feels cleaner. #AccheDin”

The crowds that thronged Delhi to celebrate Narendra Modi’s swearing-in breathed that purified air through Modi masks that had, during the election cycle, been elevated to a fashion statement. And in response to Modi’s triumphant speech, they responded to his call of ‘Achche Din’ with chants of ‘aa gaye’ in a symphonic chorus of sycophantic adoration. 

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The perfect ten, times three

(This column was first published on Scroll, Monday June 6)

There is something about the French.

The unforgiving clay of Court Phillipe Chatrier has broken hearts and melted minds, revealed invisible weaknesses and brutally exposed carefully-hidden fragilities. It is the kryptonite of tennis, denuding demigods of their strength.

“It was the worst loss of my life, a devastating defeat: sometimes it still keeps me up nights.”

John McEnroe, not given to admitting fallibility, wrote that in his autobiography Serious, some 18 years after his loss, in his only final appearance at Stade Roland Garros, to the then Grand Slam virgin Ivan Lendl.

“It’s even tough for me to do commentary at the French,” McEnroe wrote. He had stormed into that final in the midst of a dream year, flattening Jimmy Connors for his 42nd straight win on the bounce. And yet.

“I’ll often have one or two days where I literally feel sick to my stomach at being there and thinking about that match,” he wrote. “Thinking of what I threw away, and how different my life would’ve been if I’d won.”

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On Harsha Bhogle

“Even in regard to cricket commentary, games organized by the BCCI have a contractual condition that there can be no criticism of the BCCI or its selection process, thereby curtailing an exercise of free speech. Objective commentary ought to be permitted about everything connected to the match, allowing the commentators to express themselves freely and objectively. “

Brevity was the soul of the latest news item from the cricket world:  commentator Harsha Bhogle had been unceremoniously axed from the ongoing 9th edition of the Indian Premier League.

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Random pieces

Life happened. And when Life happens, the blog necessarily takes a back seat. Sorry about that; will resume semi-regular updates from Monday on. Meanwhile, collecting together a few pieces I wrote for various publications during my time away from here, and related stories from elsewhere:

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